Mansfield and District Light Railway

Summary
Motormen and conductors wore single-breasted jackets with five brass buttons (bearing the full system title and a monogram of intertwined system initials - see link), two breast pockets (with button closures), epaulettes and upright collars; the latter carried an employee number in individual brass numbers on both sides. Caps were in a military style with a glossy peak and tensioned crown (top); they bore a one-piece, brass cap badge composed of the system's initials: 'M&DLR'. Occasional photos show individuals wearing standard, 'off-the-shelf' grade badges - either 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - rather than the usual 'system initials' cap badge; the reason for this is unclear, but may have been as simply as supplies temporarily running out.

Several photos exist which show tramwaymen in uniforms, but without the collar numbers; these were probably individuals who were either in a probationary period, or were in some way considered temporary. Several photos have also survived from around the time of the Great War, seemingly always of of young lads, wearing old fashioned kepi-style caps; the reason for this is unclear, as the vast majority of photos show staff wearing military-style caps, so once again, their use may have been to denote probationary or temporary staff.

In the mid-to-late 1920s, or possibly the early 1930s, the style of the uniform jacket was changed to a more modern cut. In the case of conductors, although the design remained single-breasted with two breast pockets and epaulettes, the upright collars were replaced by lapels, so that the bearer's shirt and tie were now on view. The same approach was also taken for motormen, but with the jacket being double- rather than single-breasted. At the end of the system's life, the use of standard, 'off-the-shelf' cap badges - 'Motorman' or 'Conductor' - appears to have become much more prevalent, probably because they were cheaper and easy to order.

Tramcar staff were also issued with double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons, epaulettes and high-fold-over collars; these garments do not appear to have carried any badges.

Photographs of inspectors are yet to come to light, so it is currently unknown what uniforms they wore, though the 'last day' photo below suggests that they may have worn identical uniforms to those worn by motormen and conductors.

In common with the vast majority of UK tramway operators, the M&DLR employed women during the Great War to replace men lost to the armed services; unlike most systems, these ladies were employed not only as conductresses, but also as motorwomen. They were issued with tailored, single-breasted jackets with five buttons, a waist belt (with button fastening) and lapels; the latter do not appear to have carried any insignia. Headgear took the form of a baggy cap with a glossy peak, and these variously carried the standard 'M&DLR' cap badge or a grade badge, presumably because the former were in short supply. The usual array of Great War regimental sweetheart badges were probably also worn, though photographic evidence is currently sparse.

The ladies also appear to have been issued with standard, male, double-breasted greatcoats with two rows of five buttons, epaulettes and high, fold-over collars.

For a history of the Mansfield and District Light Railway, see: 'Mansfield's Trams' by Tony Hurst; Irwell Press (2002).

Images

Motormen and conductors
Mansfield and District Light Railway tramwayman
This photo purportedly shows M&DLR Employee No 40, Charles Robert Walker; however, given that Mr Walker was at various times, the tramway engineer (during construction), the General Manager and the Secretary, it seems extremely unlikely that he would, given the seniority of these roles, have been issued with an ordinary uniform. This leaves two plausible explanations, either he was modelling the uniform, or the photo is in fact not of Mr Walker. With thanks to the Old Mansfield Society.


Mansfield and District Light Railway cap badge
Cap badge - brass


Mansfield and District Light Railway tram driver 1906
A poor photo, but one which shows a named individual - John Lammin (or Lamming), aged 17 - who is known to have been employed in 1906. He has neither an employee number nor the standard system initials cap badge, possibly indicating that he was in a probationary phase, though this is mere speculation. Photo courtesy of Tony Hurst.


Mansfield and District Light Railway probationers cap badges
Standard, 'off-the-shelf', script-lettering grade badges - 'Motorman' and 'Conductor' - of the type which appear to have been used by the M&DLR, either when staff were in a probationary period, or when the usual 'system initials' cap badges were in short supply, particularly in the latter years of the system's life - brass.


M&DLR13_AWB CROP
Conductor and motorman stand at the terminus at Mansfield Woodhouse in 1907 with a fairly pristine Tramcar No 13, which had been delivered the year previously. Both men are wearing single-breasted jackets with upright-collars, epaulettes and military-style caps. Photo with acknowledgement to the Midland General Omnibus Company website.



Employee No 30, Harry Witts, who is known to have served as both a motorman and a conductor in 1915. Photo courtesy of Tony Hurst.


George Waterfield 1918 Mansfield and District Light Railway tram employee
Another unfortunately poor-quality reproduction, this time showing George Waterfield - again without employee number - who is known to have been employed during 1918, though in what capacity is unclear. Of note here is the kepi-style cap, which would have been very old-fashioned by this time. We will probably never know why they were purchased, though possibly they were used for probationers or young lads, as both this and the following photo seem to be of boys who would have been too young for military service. Photo courtesy of Tony Hurst.


Mansfield and District Light Railway tram driver
Fred Stevens, who was employed by the company as a motorman in 1920, and later became an inspector. The badge above the 'M&DLR' badge is more than likely a regimental badge, strongly suggesting that the photo was taken during the Great War; the absence of an employee number also suggests that he was perhaps only employed in a probationary or temporary capacity when the photo was taken. Photo courtesy of Tony Hurst.


Mansfield and District Light Railway Tram No 13
Tramcar No 13 again, this time being prepared to leave the depot in 1930, with motorman in double-breasted greatcoat (with script-lettering grade badge) and conductor (with trolley pole) in single-breasted jacket, seemingly with lapels. Photo believed to be by Dr H Nicol, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Mansfield and District Light Railway Tram No 13
A photo taken in the early 1930s, which hints at the more modern style of uniforms worn in the latter years of the system (conductor far left). Photo by M J O'Connor, courtesy of the National Tramway Museum.


Mansfield and District Light Railway 9th October 1932
A photo taken on the last day of operation, 9th October 1932. The man at the controls of Tramcar No 6 is in fact Chief Inspector Charlie Underwood, which strongly suggests that senior grades wore uniforms that were identical to those issued to motormen and conductors. The other motorman (Alf Cooke) is wearing a double-breasted jacket with lapels, whilst the two conductors, B Groves (extreme left) and D Moreton (centre) are both wearing single-breasted jackets with lapels. Photo courtesy of the Tramways and Light Railway Society, with thanks to David Voice.


Senior staff
Inspector Jess Bickley - Mansfield and District Light Railway
Jess Bickley, who is known to have been in the employ of the company in 1918, purportedly as an inspector, though whether he is an inspector in this photo is somewhat unclear. The cap badge could equally well be an inspector-specific badge or a regimental badge, the wearing of which was very common during the Great War. The collar initials appear to be 'M9', the meaning of which, if correct, is completely obscure.


Female staff
Mansfield and District Light Railway Great War tram conductress and driver
Two conductresses and a motorwoman with a rather battered-looking Tramcar No 5 - photo undated, but almost certainly taken during the Great War. The lady on the left has a ‘Conductor’ cap badge, presumably because the M&DLR cap badges were in short supply and would have needed a special order, whereas 'Conductor' cap badges would have been an 'off the shelf' item. With thanks to the National Tramway Museum.